Traveller heritage Henry went on to create a leisure empire

Henry Marshall, who has died at the age of 80
Henry Marshall, who has died at the age of 80

Tributes have been paid to an adopted Scarborian who played a huge role in the town’s leisure and entertainment industry.

William Henry Marshall, better known as Henry Marshall, developed an arcade on Scarborough’s seafront after coming to town in the 1960s.

Henry Marshall outside the Millennium attraction on Sandside  Picture taken 25/5/1993

Henry Marshall outside the Millennium attraction on Sandside Picture taken 25/5/1993

He has died at the age of 80 following a long term illness.

Son William, 55, said: “He was well-known showman who was very proud of Scarborough.

“The place was very good to him and it was always his home. Some believe he was the first to say ‘Scream if you want to go faster’ on a fairground ride.”

Henry was born on the road in Ossett, West Yorkshire, into a family who had been in the travelling fairground trade for five or six generations.

His parents placed him at a boarding school near Pudsey to give him some stability, but he found himself in charge of the “Escape Committee”.

He went to business school in Bradford when he was 15 and learned skills such as shorthand and book-keeping, as well as other new distractions.

After leaving school, he started helping the family business before he married Dahlia, who was also from a fairground family.

They settled down and decided upon Scarborough.

Henry told this newspaper in 2006: “I have opened and operated 50 different businesses, some started from scratch, some bought as going concerns.

“Nearly all of them connected to the entertainment industry, and I opened about 15 businesses that I knew nothing about.”

Henry took over the running of the Old Windmill site in 1966, which is still vacant next to Olympia – that had several units, including a gift shop and a fish and chip shop.

He then rented the old Olympia Ballroom on the seafront, and ran it as an amusement arcade and cinema.

It was commonly known as the Funhouse, referring to the big children’s play area.

It was later destroyed by a fire.

The former president of Scarborough Rotary Cavaliers Club also bought the Pier Hotel in the 1970s and transformed it into the Pier Arcade.

Outside the town he ran a disco in Bridlington and a number of prize bingo halls and attractions at Dudley Zoo in Birmingham.

During the 1990s he created the Millennium, a walkthrough history of Scarborough from the Roman settlement to the bombing of the town during World War One. Unfortunately this did not get the footfall and closed in 2002 and turned back into an arcade.

Henry said in 2006: “I invested too much money, too much time and the project failed. It was in the wrong place. The concept was good but we didn’t get enough people.”

William said: “Dad was always active and was taking us places. He had so many hobbies including photography, golf and fishing.

“He was a character, always telling jokes and was a well-liked family man.”

Henry leaves behind his children William, 55, Tamra, 54, and Jason, 48 and six grandchildren.

John Senior, chairman of South Bay Traders’ group said: “He was one of the founder members of the group so we have a lot to thank him for. Henry was an innovator and a popular man who will be missed.”